Critics’ Picks

Victoria Haven, Subtitles (#41) desolation/angles, 2014, woodblock on paper, 12 x 27”.

Victoria Haven, Subtitles (#41) desolation/angles, 2014, woodblock on paper, 12 x 27”.


Victoria Haven

925 NW Flanders Street
January 6–January 31, 2015

At the heart of Seattle-based artist Victoria Haven’s installation of her “Subtitles” series from 2014 is an intuitive investigation of two linguistic forms: cinematic screenplays and text-message conversations. For the past several years, Haven has been working with the script of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining—inspired, in part, by the movie’s Pacific Northwest sets such as Mount Hood’s Timberline Lodge. In 2013, the artist photographed Kubrick’s model of the film’s hedge maze, then abstracted its forms into a geometric lexicon for “Jump Cuts,“ 2013, a series of ink-on-paper works. Each drawing was titled with directorial instructions appropriated from The Shining’s script, such as CUT TO: High Angle \ Car moving along road, and “Subtitles” extends this exploration of found language.

Shifting her close examination of narrative and diagrammatic form into more personal realms, Haven began examining her text conversations with a number of friends and confidantes. From a year’s worth of such communications, she compiled two lists of sixteen hundred words each. Then she created a computer algorithm to randomly combine the lists into pairs of words ad infinitum. One hundred of these poetic dyads are represented in each of the one hundred woodblock prints that constitute this series. Some gems include terrible/me, desolation/angles, and chronic/protagonist. Within these prints, each white word is contained by its own black rectangle. Like a stereoscopic card, the rectangles are separated by a small gap between each print that cajoles one’s eyes into a back-and-forth reading. Across the installation of these works, the proliferation of language oscillates into a gorgeous and captivating tangle of ideas and emotional associations.